Constant Change: As I discovered a liking for solitude

Learning how to keep myself company

Oishee Misra

My mom has a new recent obsession. No, it’s not her daily reminders about my grades and AP testing usually followed by a sarcastic retaliation about my plans to drop out and become a graffiti artist (although, that has been a pretty common conversation around my house lately). Rather, her recent obsession is to randomly drop reminders that I’m not allowed to date in high school.

Mom, first of all, nobody wants to date me. Second of all, I’m dropping out and becoming a graffiti artist, remember?

The implementation of a no dating rule is relatively prevalent in Indian households, and is often the source of some (slightly racist) jokes as well as some risky sneaking-out business many students partake in. And normally, I vehemently disagree with close to anything and everything my mom says (I’m joking, mom, please buy me AirPods). But this time, maybe, just maybe, she has a point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying high school relationships are bad, and that people shouldn’t date. I’m actually a relatively social person, and I tend to hold relationships very close to my heart. Relationships — whether they are friendships or romantic or familial — are a part of life; being social is an inherent part of human nature. So why do I agree with my mom?

Because I think that sometimes, society has a tendency to perpetuate this belief that being with people is absolutely necessary. Because there is this tendency to equate happiness to social life. Because it’s so easy to forget to find comfort in your own presence if you are constantly surrounded by the company of others.

This realization and shift in my belief occurred quite recently; actually, it was over spring break. To summarize my main activities over break: I ate food, watched Netflix and did not leave my house unless absolutely necessary. It was supposed to be a relaxing break, one where I could unwind and at least attempt to dissipate my stress.

Yet instead of clearing my mind, I started to feel a sense of uneasiness. Thoughts ran through my head at breakneck speed … why was I so lame? Why was I doing nothing? Except I wasn’t doing nothing — I was doing things, just alone. And the cause of my uneasiness? The fact that society seems to find shame in being alone.

I remember characterizing these feelings as loneliness, spending the first half of break trying to make up my mind about whether or not I wanted to be around people. Eventually, I concluded that I was in fact happy and content being alone, seeing as everyone hated me and I was nobody’s favorite person (I’m a little dramatic). Looking back, I’m slightly ticked off that I wasted half of my break being angsty, but at least it brought forth a revelation: screw society, I like being alone.

A lot of my senior friends are about to embark for college, and I’m already anticipating the tears and the difficult goodbyes I’ll have to deal with. Their departure has further supported my realization, though. People will inadvertently come and go from my life, and the only person that will stay a constant is myself. So, I for one, am glad that I now know being alone is not so bad after all.

As cheesy as this sounds, alone time should be treasured. Everyone is always preaching self-love, but how can we practice self-love without being alone, with only ourselves to keep us happy and to keep us company? I genuinely love being with other people, but to be completely honest, I’m the most real version of myself when I’m by myself. My dramatic tangent about not feeling like anyone’s favorite person did actually stem from a real fear, but I think we should all be our own favorite person (apologies for sounding like a Pinterest board).

Now, I’m not instructing you to immediately cut everyone out of our life and begin a saga of self-reflection. I am merely saying that it’s okay to be alone. My friends are wonderful, but I don’t feel deep regret about not spending time with them over break. Because you know what? I’m pretty great company, too.